Collecting Bull Semen

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We are pretty proud of General Grievous. (Dad misspelled his name on the registration papers.) He has turned out to be a very good herd cleanup bull for us. His numbers are excellent for a Simmental and phenotypically he is pretty nice as well. But we should go back to the beginning.

The General  Here is the General at a couple days old with Sandy. She had him unassisted in 2006. General's baby picture

He has given us many show ring winners; bulls, steers and heifers. The cows from him have turned out to be excellent milkers and mothers. So with all these lovely attributes we decided to collect him to share his good genetics and to use it when he is gone. Thus starts our journey into storing General’s semen. Things like this are always a learning experience.

Fortunately, Interglobe Genetics is only a 1.5 hour drive for us. This is their round barn they have on the premisses. This happened to be the first week in December and it was cold.

round barn Interglobe Genetics  We were surprised that where they had the bulls unload from the trailers there is a large drain right in the middle of the floor. Of course, this spooked the General as he pranced around it. Not a good design.

They used a steer for bulls to jump. A brave guy collected the semen in a sleeve. Then they take the semen under a microscope to see his count. The General’s numbers were very good. He only had to be collected once more to get the number of straws we wanted. We drive home and wait for them to call to pick it up.

testing semen countA month later, they call that it is ready to be picked up. These tanks are only about 1/3 of the tanks in this building. A nice young lady showed us around.

large semen tanksThis is what it looks inside the large tanks. Lots and lots of canes. Lots of records to keep track of who is where.

inside large semen tankWe pick up the Generals semen and head home. Bill wants me to make up a flyer to put up at the Beef Expo. Being the dutiful wife, I comply.

General's adBut wait, we get a notice that the DNA test for the General has failed for the sire Hooks Shear Force! Wonderful. Bill is sure he used the right straw when we bred Sandy; but maybe it was Hooks Pace Setter? So we send off another hair test sample to the labs. The test isn’t done quickly. The Beef Expo comes around. We can’t put up the flyers or tell anyone we have General’s semen available because we don’t have the results back.

Then we get the results in the mail… He passes positive for the sire Hooks Shear Force.

dna test resultsSince he has been around for awhile, we have seen what this guy works with and how they grow. All his calves have been easy birthing. There hasn’t been one that was too big.

He works really well with our purebred Angus cows.  Here is a picture of a heifer sired by General and one of our Angus cows. The hardest thing with her is keeping her from getting too finished to fast to be a show heifer.  She is a real easy keeper.  She seems to put on weight just looking at hay.

daisy angus on general

He also does a decent job on club calf style cows.  Here is a steer that we raised from General and a 1/2 blood Simmental cow.  She is sired by Dr. Who.  The steer was third overall at a competitive county fair steer show and was 4th steer overall at a Simmental regional.

Clovis 3rd overall steer

Last is a picture of a bull sired by  General, he was a Division winner at the State Fair.  He is out of a 3/4 Simmental, 1/4 Angus cow.

Master Chief

General works well on many different types of cows and the best part is they come real easy and then grow very fast.  We decided to collect him and share him with others after he has sired so many good ones for us.  He is 6 years old and still walks like a cat and still is very interested in the ladies.

If National Geographic Followed Us Today

Inside Secret America:

Cattle Farm

National Geographic channel feels it needs to get the truth out about handling of livestock. Are animals treated humanely?

I do wish they would have been with us today with their undercover cameras to witness how we handled our cattle. A little of it may be shocking if they haven’t been around large animals. But mostly it’s a family trying to take care of their cow herd.

As we were feeding the cows this morning, a few of the younger heifers we show that have had a cough and diarrhea were still coughing. Today Z treated them with sulfa boluses or large pill. The bolus is given to the calf with a boling gun that places the “pill” in the back of the throat. That way it isn’t spit out. The heifers should be getting better by tomorrow.

caring for sick calf

Later this morning, Betsy had her calf. Isabella went out to the pasture to make sure everything was okay. Since both cow and calf looked fine, we left them alone. Betsy is one of the oldest cows on the farm. She knows what to do.

Animal Undercover

Checking on another pasture of cows, we saw they decided to go for a swim in the pond. It was rather cool today. So these cows aren’t skinny dipping because of the heat. I think they just like it. Later they went to dry off in the grass.

skinny dipping cows

Don’t they even look like they were caught doing something.

This afternoon it was time to treat a three week old heifer that has a navel infection along with a hernia. Our vet would like the infection cleared up before fixing the hernia. Theo and Isabella followed his instructions on getting her healed up.

All this might not be flashy enough for National Geographic Channel. There weren’t any “caught on camera” moments. And nothing really to keep secret. Just a day of taking care of cattle on our farm.

Video of Farm Life Ep. 3

Farm Life in 6 second clips

kinze planter on a John Deere tractor going into transport position, filling the planter with seed corn, corn germinating after two days, switching the planter units over to plant soy beans, farm kids bringing in newborn calf so its closer by the barn away from coyotes, putting the planter away in the shed since storm clouds were approaching. One of our many videos of farm life.

Slideshow of Farm Life May 2013

(click arrow to start slideshow)

As last year had historic drought conditions, this spring has had unending waves of rain. This month alone we’ve had over 10″ of rain. We were able to get all the corn planted and 80% of the beans. But we’ve yet to determine how much replant we’ll have to do. We haven’t had the first cutting of hay which really needs to be done. Very glad May is over.

Farm Video Shorts Episode 1

I am combining videos that I take with the vine app (username farmNwife) of our farming activities. Unfortunately the app only takes video in portrait view. That is the reason for the black sides on the video. I have contacted them imploring that they change this feature; so we’ll see what Vine App does. This will be the first of many Farm Video Shorts. If you have any ideas you would like for us to record just let us know. Also subscribe to be notified when new episodes are published

Enjoy your trip Around the Farm in 6 Second Clips

Cows mooing, working with show steer, cow scratching, farm kid with air wrench putting on duals, tractor planting corn

How a uterus is like a sock

vet & prolapse cowAnother first for the Graff livestock experience: Ellyon ,who won Champion Performance Cow at the state fair, educated us about prolapsed uteri. Monday afternoon she pushed her uterus out after having her bull calf. We thought her calving days had ended. But Dr. Jay says she should be just fine having another calf. He was surprised we hadn’t had this before. (just our lucky year)

fixing prolapse


All the guys helped put the uterus back where it belonged. It’s a slow process putting it back through the small opening; but with everyone there to help it went fairly quickly. The vet says it’s like turning a sock right-side out inside the cow. So they all took turns pushing and shoving it back into place. Then Dr. Jay gave it a couple of stitches on the back end to keep it there. They are to be removed in a couple of weeks.



Bella had classes while Ellyon was fixed up. When she returned home, Bella was happy to hear she wasn’t losing another good cow.

Twisted Uterus Brings Down a Cow


Tempest afternoon of c-section

I started this timeline to track all of the events that were happening to our cow, Tempest. I fully expected her to survive and be put back with the herd. But that is not how it turned out. Tempest died exactly one week after we found her down. At first I wasn’t going to post this to the blog. On my facebook page, Lorinda asked me to post the information to help others recognize the problem in their own cows. The vet said he sees this maybe once a year. We should only see it once a life time. Hope he is right. We are very blessed to have multiple excellent vets in our area.

Friday: notice Tempest not feeling well (lying in an odd location with her head held high); decide to take to vet on Monday
Saturday: looking in on her, chewing cud looked okay

Sunday morning: Tempest found down in mud couldn’t get up. Pulled her out of the lot. Made a pen of gates around her with straw. Called the vet.
Sunday afternoon: vet not sure what is wrong. checked the size of calf. gave her IV. induced labor to save calf. Slim to no chance given to survive the night. propped her upright with hay bales. check on her every half hour
Sunday night: midnight found her standing; drank and ate hay.

morning: nice weather kept her outside
noon: put her in a calving pen in the shed before storm; ate and drank
afternoon: noticeable contractions
night: calf not coming down birth canal

5am: Tempest down again on her side. still no calf in birth canal. not looking good. Call vet
6:30: vets do a c-section. discover the placenta turned blocking circulation and the calf; calf didn’t make it; sewed her back up; more IV; propped her upright with hay bales
9am: drank two buckets of water
10:30: standing up; clean her pen; drinks more water
noon: found on side, straining; propped her upright with bales again. keeping in contact with vet. need to keep her drinking water
3pm: standing but still need to prop while lying down. drank some water
6pm: gave her more water but not looking good
night: checked on her through the night

5:am no change not eating or drinking
noon: vet gives more IV’s
1pm: drinks and eats oats and beet pulp
3pm: roll her to her other side; discover two layers of stitching from c-section are tore open. call vet
4pm: vet sews Tempest back up
6pm: Tempest stands for a short while but lays on her stitches side
8pm: install a wireless camera to watch her from the house

6:am Not much change. Tempest won’t eat or drink. tube water into her.
10:am run to vet to get electrolytes to add to her water
afternoon: no significant change, decide not to roll her on her other side
night: barn camera comes in handy to make sure Tempest is lying upright while snow storm hits; still not eating

6:am pumped water with electrolytes to Tempest; not eating; condition the same
evening: no change; manually moving her back legs for her for circulation

6:am no change; work her legs for her and offer her water but doesn’t drink
evening: roll her to her other side & work her back legs again. doesn’t drink

morning: didn’t make it through the night, buried her out in the field

Tempest was such a sweet, gentle natured cow. She will be missed.

washing Tempest

Theo washing Tempest during her summer showing season

at Simmental Regionals

Showing Tempest at Simmental Jr. Regionals in Wausau, WI



If You Give a Cow a Smartphone




Even cows can benefit from having a mobile device. A new collar being developed for cattle ranchers could send cow health updates to farmers’ cellphones. The device could help ranchers save money in the long run, monitoring the health of their animals

This got me to thinking about getting a text message from my cows. I think it would be so cool. What would a cow text?

Gate left open. Cant find our way back in. Hrry Home

Ur late for chores. Where R U?

Betsy in heat. Lookn 4 Bull. bout 2 go thru fence

Pick up oats on ur way home

Dont 4get vet apt @ 2

What do you think a cow would text message? And what apps would they want?

Harvest 11 Day 2

Another slow day. William and Bella had to take a few steers to the sale barn. Then it was left to the boys and I to handle the corn. The field we are in is close to the bins so we don’t have to haul it too far. Becker showed up to run the grain cart. Unloading on the go, is much faster. We put two cameras on the grain cart; one to see behind the cart and one to see inside the cart to watch the corn dumping. I’ll get some pictures or video on them.

The cattle haulers returned home. Next they had some cattle rustling to do. They were moving cows and calves around to get ready for weaning. Only one calf escaped but they quickly corralled him back into the lot.

Late after noon, it started to drizzle enough that we had to stop the combine. The video below was taken just before then.